Causing Death by Dangerous Driving – Sentencing Issues
In a recent case the judge was faced with the task of sentencing 3 offenders for their part in causing the death of 4 people, and seriously injuring 3 others. The main offender Elliot Bower received a total prison sentence of 11 1/2 years.
The offence of causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, but what happens if 4 deaths are caused during a single incident, does the total rise to a maximum of 56 years?
The answer to that question is no, the maximum remains at 14 years.
There is nothing wrong in principle with consecutive prison sentences and had the defendants committed 4 offences over 4 days, causing one death on each occasion, the theoretical maximum open to the Judge would actually have been 56 years (i.e. 4 x 14 years). So, why not in this case?
The Judge was obliged to follow the case of R v Jaynesh Chadusama which led to the Judge observing:
“I am compelled to take 14 years imprisonment as the maximum sentence open to me where multiple fatalities arise from a single incident of dangerous driving.”
The Judge did, however, have the following to say, which indicated his general unease as to the current state of the law:
“Before passing sentence, I wish to make this observation. It is my intention to refer these sentencing remarks to the Secretary of State for Transport … It is not for me to recommend changes in the law. I simply invite those who
have that responsibility, namely the Secretary of State, to consider the following point.
It may be worthy of consideration whether a court, when there are multiple deaths arising from a single episode of dangerous driving, particularly when the dangerous driving is of an exceptionally serious kind – as in this case, should have power to impose a higher level of
custodial sentence than would be permitted by the current law.
It is not for me to make this observation, but there may be some who feel that Parliament may wish to revisit the issue of the powers available to a court when sentencing in an exceptionally serious case of this kind.
Will the law change?
The Attorney General in the days following this case indicated that a change in sentencing policy is likely. This will be more easily achieved not by trying to reverse the rule in R v Jaynesh Chadusama, but by simply increasing the maximum penalty available to one of life imprisonment.
It is also likely that we will see increases in other death by driving sentences, and perhaps even a new offence covering the causing of serious injury.
How Tuckers Solicitors can help you…
To discuss anything to do with death by dangerous driving sentences please contact us on 020 7388 8333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly assist.
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